With three women dying at the hands of their partners every day in South Africa, turning the tide on a national crisis of gender-based violence will take more than slogans and summits, and cannot be fully effective without data and performance monitoring to measure the impact of government interventions.
While the budget speech delivered last month mentioned a national strategic plan to “stop the carnage” by September 2019 and welcomed the move to activate “budget support and planning for interventions” addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and femicide, there is a risk of failure unless mechanisms to track the true extent of the problem and the effectiveness of the strategies are in place, says Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, Development Economist at the University of Stellenbosch Business School and contributor to the 2019 South African Board for People Practices (SABPP) Women’s Report, themed Women and Politics, launched (1 August).
“It is not clear how an effective strategy will be developed in the absence of indices and data to contribute to a national monitoring framework with performance indicators to monitor trends, incidence of GBV and measure the impact of interventions,” she said.
Dr Moleko, a Commissioner of the Commission for Gender Equality, said institutions and resources already existing should be better deployed, coordinated and monitored, rather than creating new and overlapping institutions.
Pointing to the failure to implement resolutions of previous gender summits, she warned against “the creation of a web of institutional mechanisms, which, if not properly established, will only lead to duplication and overlapping of roles, and ineffective use of resources, culminating in a repetition of the same mistakes”.
Her article “Do we have the tracking tools to monitor the National Gender Machinery” examines the current and previous efforts to curb gender-based violence, and makes recommendations to government for mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the planned interventions.
Dr Moleko said gender-based violence “affects the very fabric of our society”.
“It is of utmost importance that we establish both policy and institutional responses to measure and effectively reduce the incidence of GBV. It is not simply a phenomenon that occurs at home, it leaves traces across society and costs the nation dearly through a loss of productivity, a rise in absenteeism, and social grant dependence.
“Further reliance on the state for health care support, policing and judicial resources, social protection, and insurance places greater demands on already limited state resources. The loss suffered by individual women and children is immeasurable, and not something anyone should be forced to suffer in a civilised society,” Dr Moleko said.
She said that violence against women and children had heightened over the past decade, with South Africa’s femicide rate now five times higher than the global average, and more than one in five women experiencing physical violence, worsening to one in three in low-income areas.